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J Infect. 1998 Jan;36(1):5-15.

Bacteriophages show promise as antimicrobial agents.

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  • 1Department of Community and Family Medicine, St. Louis University School of Medicine, MO 63014, USA.

Abstract

The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has prompted interest in alternatives to conventional drugs. One possible option is to use bacteriophages (phage) as antimicrobial agents. We have conducted a literature review of all Medline citations from 1966-1996 that dealt with the therapeutic use of phage. There were 27 papers from Poland, the Soviet Union, Britain and the U.S.A. The Polish and Soviets administered phage orally, topically or systemically to treat a wide variety of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in both adults and children. Infections included suppurative wound infections, gastroenteritis, sepsis, osteomyelitis, dermatitis, empyemas and pneumonia; pathogens included Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Klebsiella, Escherichia, Proteus, Pseudomonas, Shigella and Salmonella spp. Overall, the Polish and Soviets reported success rates of 80-95% for phage therapy, with rare, reversible gastrointestinal or allergic side effects. However, efficacy of phage was determined almost exclusively by qualitative clinical assessment of patients, and details of dosages and clinical criteria were very sketchy. There were also six British reports describing controlled trials of phage in animal models (mice, guinea pigs and livestock), measuring survival rates and other objective criteria. All of the British studies raised phage against specific pathogens then used to create experimental infections. Demonstrable efficacy against Escherichia, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus spp. was noted in these model systems. Two U.S. papers dealt with improving the bioavailability of phage. Phage is sequestered in the spleen and removed from circulation. This can be overcome by serial passage of phage through mice to isolate mutants that resist sequestration. In conclusion, bacteriophages may show promise for treating antibiotic resistant pathogens. To facilitate further progress, directions for future research are discussed and a directory of authors from the reviewed papers is provided.

PMID:
9515662
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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